Like John Ford's "airmail" and Howard Hawks 's "Only angels have wings" ,"au grand balcon" deals with the heroic pilots who struggled,suffered and often died to carry the mail .Their boss (a deadpan and seemingly insensitive Pierre Fresnay) wants them to consider the mail as a God.
George Marchal -who was often compared with Jean Marais- portrays one of these fearless daring pilots with gusto.A versatile actor,he could play sword and sandals as well as his friend Luis Bunuel 's much more ambitious opus ("cela s'appelle l'aurore" "la mort en ce jardin").
Henry Decoin 's directing is effective and avoids pathos whereas the numerous deaths could have turned the movie into a tear jerker.Two examples: -Marchal is lost in the snow,he wants to climb higher and higher because he knows that up there he will not be buried beneath .Thus ,his body will be found and his old mom will get the insurance money.This sequence abruptly ends in a way that will surprise -and maybe disappoint- the audience.
-Marchal's young protégé Didier is about to die ,far from his homeland ,but the pilot will have to leave the deathbed before the end .
"Au grand balcon" is the name of the boarding-house where the pilots live.Halfway between document and novel ,the movie achieves the feat of doing without a single love interest,which was rare at the time.
That said,it's not really a true Decoin movie;This director's forte was the film noir and he will be remembered for such works as "non coupable" or "la vérité sur Bébé Donge"."Au grand balcon" should appeal to people who like the two movies I mention at the beginning of my comment.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?